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How to make the Earth your only shareholder

Sphere is a cultural research tool that studies online data and applies machine learning models for deeper, more empathetic insights.

In 2017, Forbes magazine declared Patagonia’s founder a billionaire and it really, really pissed him off.

In a no holds barred New York Times interview, Yvon Chouinard explained why the article felt like a failure in his personal mission of making the world a better and fairer place. It set him off on a quest to seek out a “new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people”.

Six years later, he finally found the solution.

The outdoor clothing company made headlines earlier this month when Chouinard announced his radical decision to give Patagonia away to fight the climate crisis. All ownership held by Chouinard and his family would be transferred to entities committed to driving environmental and social impact, with a priority on biodiversity protection and restoration.

To quote the reluctant businessman: Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose.’

An avid rock climber since childhood, it’s no surprise that this self-professed existential dirtbag would commit his billion dollar enterprise to fighting ecological destruction.

The brand itself is no stranger to ethical production, having gained repute for slow fashion practices like making durable high-quality products from recycled materials and offering a repair and reuse program.

The brand’s online presence also embodies this ethos across platforms curated with stunning pictures of forests, mountains, and sea, coupled with rugged adventurers biking, hiking and living their best lives.

Using Sphere’s Ad Evaluation app, we analyzed Patagonia’s top YouTube ads to find out how the brand crafted their communications portray their values:

Patagonia core values: https://www.patagonia.com/core-values/

Sphere research app in action: Ad Evaluation

Sphere’s AI model found that the brand’s quality products and sustainable business model resonated the most in their ads. Less so their value of causing less harm.

Here’s what their creative team did:

Brand value: Build the best product

Their assurance of quality is communicated by blue prints of long-lasting designs, and, scenes of products being put to rough use.

Brand value: Cause no unnecessary harm

This value came across the most in one ad. Children are shown enjoying conventionally risky situations, suggesting that doing things differently can result in happier, more fulfilling experiences.

Brand value: Use business to protect nature

This all-encompassing value is communicated with scenes of families living simply and enjoying the outdoors, as well as a heavy focus on the sustainable methods and materials used in Patagonia’s production.

Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai for more information on how Sphere can radically transform the way your company understands online data.

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We are a culturally rooted, AI powered insights firm that converts millions of data signals into human understanding. Visit us: https://quilt.ai